What is a Gluten-free Diet?
A gluten-free diet has become popular in pop culture over the past two decades with many celebrities and high-profile individuals publicly advocating for it. As a result, some have viewed this diet as a fad, but this could not be further from the truth.
More and more people are being diagnosed with gluten intolerance, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease every year. These health conditions, all impacted by the presence of gluten in the diet, are becoming more well known. As a result, people with these conditions are switching to a gluten-free diet as a necessity as recommended by their healthcare providers.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is simply a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. Gluten is not an evil protein but is in fact useful in many ways as it helps foods maintain their shape. The problem is that a percentage of the worldwide population has a difficult time digesting gluten and, as a result, their health can be negatively impacted. The challenge is that gluten is often hidden in many processed foods and in many foods that we love.
It's important to understand what gluten is, what foods contain gluten, and why a gluten-free diet is important for a percentage of the world population.
What is a Gluten-free Diet?
Gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular for those who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This diet typically consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and other plant-based proteins like soybeans. Surprisingly for some people, the gluten-free diet has numerous health benefits!
The main feature of a gluten-free diet is that it avoids eating gluten protein found in many foods. This diet is typically followed by anyone who has gluten sensitivity or anyone who has celiac disease.
As the diet has grown more popular over recent years due to more people being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, many restaurants and grocery stores now carry at least a few gluten-free food options and gluten-free alternatives. That said, unfortunately, it can still be difficult for gluten sensitive people to easily find gluten-free foods.
Foods Containing Gluten
Gluten can be found in the following foods:
- Brewer's Yeast
Who Should Follow a Gluten-free Diet?
Most healthcare providers recommend a gluten-free diet for those who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, or they will likely have very uncomfortable reactions such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is especially important for anyone with celiac disease to be on a gluten-free diet as it is the only treatment and must be followed by this group for the rest of their life. People with undiagnosed Celiac Disease will experience terrible symptoms until they are diagnosed by a doctor and start following a diet that is completely gluten-free.
This gluten-free diet is also sometimes recommended for people who suffer from anemia or diabetes due to the high amount of nutrients found in gluten-free foods.
The Importance of a Gluten-free Diet
Adherence to a gluten-free diet is very important for anyone living with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. With gluten intolerance, gluten in the diet can impact a person’s daily quality of life. In the case of celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can be life-challenging as a celiac patient’s immune system negatively reacts to gluten and can cause resulting damage to their small intestines.
Even the slightest amount of gluten can trigger this immune system reaction thus resulting in damage to the body. If someone with one of these conditions does not follow a gluten-free diet, then they will most likely experience some debilitating side effects.
The health benefits of following a gluten-free diet highly outweigh the negative symptoms are eating gluten if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
- Stomach Pain
- Brain Fog
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
People with gluten intolerance typically have a negative reaction when eating gluten, but the reaction typically isn't as bad as people with celiac disease.
For example, this group typically does not see damage to the small intestine as a result of a immune response. There's no clear reason why people might have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but they do have negative reactions when consuming certain amounts of gluten-containing foods.
It's important not to assume you have gluten intolerance because you may be suffering from a digestive condition that would require a different type of diet, such as the Low FODMAP diet, instead of a gluten-free diet. It's always best to speak with your healthcare provider to be properly informed and diagnosed.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten causes the body to attack the small intestine. This attack on the small intestine can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. People with celiac disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives.
People with celiac disease will unfortunately always suffer from the same symptoms even if they try to reintroduce gluten containing foods after following a gluten-free diet.
Foods You Cannot Eat on a Gluten-free Diet
There are some very obvious foods that contain gluten and then there are processed foods that can contain gluten as well. The processed foods can be tricky so it’s important to read labels. Some of the obvious foods that contain gluten are anything containing wheat like cereal or pasta or breads.
If possible, it's best for people with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease to stick with gluten-free food alternatives, foods labeled gluten-free, or brands that say certified gluten-free.
It used to be impossible to find gluten-free food products, but it has become more accessible today as gluten-free conditions are being diagnosed more often. Unfortunately, it can still be difficult find gluten-free options when you go out to eat at restaurants or if you are travelling.
- Baked Goods
- Beverages (Beer and other flavored alcoholic beverages)
- Gluten containing grains
It's important for people with celiac disease or people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity to focus on eating single ingredient foods, eat only foods labeled gluten-free, and to always read your labels.
If you are having trouble finding gluten-free meals, then you can look into subscribing to gluten-free meal delivery services. ModifyHealth has a large menu of gluten-free meals (60+) that can be shipped to your front door with free nationwide shipping.
If you plan on drinking alcoholic beverages, make sure to only purchase beverages that are free of gluten. Many alcoholic beverages are made using gluten containing ingredients.
Foods You Can Eat on a Gluten-free Diet
If you are on a gluten-free diet then you will need to ensure you are only consuming naturally gluten-free foods or foods that are certified gluten-free.
It's important to do your research into what you can eat and cannot eat so you won't deal with the negative side effects caused by gluten or have a limited diet which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Eating fruits and vegetables often is an easy way to ensure that your diet is free of gluten. Fruits and vegetables are naturally free of gluten and can be paired with delicious salad dressings helping to ensure healthy living.
- Fish and other seafood
- Grains (Labeled gluten-free)
- Starches and Flours
- Seeds and Nuts
- Snack Foods (Labeled gluten-free)
- Beverages (Most beverages)
The Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet
The benefits of a gluten-free diet for someone suffering from celiac disease or someone who has non-celiac gluten sensitivity are endless. A gluten-free diet is a must because it should eliminate uncomfortable and painful symptoms that consuming gluten can cause.
For people with celiac disease, elimination of a gluten from their diet is the main treatment prescribed by medical professionals and can help alleviate chronic issues quickly.
Eating gluten-free foods makes eliminating gluten from your diet and avoid negative symptoms way easier. Finding gluten-free products can be more difficult, but many grocery stores are starting to release their own brands of gluten-free products such as Aldi, Publix, and many more!
Challenges of Following a Gluten-free Diet
Finding naturally gluten-free meals and gluten-free meal options at restaurants can be very difficult which makes it hard to follow a gluten-free diet for anyone with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Also, travelling can be difficult because of the lack of gluten-free options at fast food restaurants or gas stations. It's important to plan ahead by bring your own gluten-free snack foods or gluten-free prepared meals that you can heat in a microwave.
Many gas stations and airports have public microwaves that makes it easier to bring your own gluten-free prepared meals with you during your travels. It's very important to maintain your nutrition while traveling!
Research and Planning
The easiest way to avoid eating gluten is by doing your research and planning accordingly when going to the grocery store or out to a restaurant. Prior to dining out, you can view the restaurant’s menu to confirm gluten-free options or call the restaurant ahead of time to confirm what gluten-free options they can offer either on the menu or via special preparation.
Travel planning can be even more important for anyone who needs to follow a diet free of any gluten. Whether it’s a road trip or a flight, you'll always need to make sure you have gluten-free food with you to ensure you are getting enough nutrition and maintaining your energy levels.
Gluten-free Meal Plan
Another way to ensure you follow a strict gluten-free diet is by subscribing to gluten-free meal plans. It can be hard to eliminate gluten from your diet completely, but ModifyHealth makes it easy with fully prepared, gluten-free meals delivered right to your front door.
You can also use gluten-free packaged products often found in many grocery stores for snacks. There are tons of snacks made from gluten-free whole grains in most grocery stores. If a grocery store doesn't have snacks that are free of gluten, then it's important to read the labels of other snacks to ensure it’s full of gluten-free ingredients.
How Do I Get Started on a Gluten-free Meal Plan?
Gluten-free diets are easy to follow when you purchase fully prepared gluten-free meals from a meal delivery service. Whether you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free meal plan of fully prepared gluten-free meals can be life changing.
It's very easy to get started on a meal delivery service, but it's important to do your research on the service before diving right in. You'll need to make sure it aligns with your budget, has enough meals available to where it doesn't get old quick, and is officially certified gluten-free.
The best way to do your research is by using meal delivery service review sites to see how each meal delivery service compares to each other. It's also important to read reviews to find out whether other gluten-free eaters like the meals.
Positives of Gluten-free Meal Delivery
Using a gluten-free diet meal delivery service has a ton of positives like making gluten elimination easier, you'll save tons of time with less shopping and cooking, and you'll rest easy knowing that you have a healthy diet that is full of nothing but gluten-free foods. No more stomach pains, vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea!
There are many meal delivery services, but not all of them are made equal. It's important to make sure the service is certified gluten-free, uses all-natural ingredients, and has a big enough menu to satisfy your palate.
Try Gluten-free Diet Meal Delivery
If you are ready to put your gluten-free diet on autopilot and take control of your health then you have come to the right place. ModifyHealth is the #1 physician and dietitian recommended meal delivery service with a full menu of fully prepared meals that are certified gluten-free and can be delivered to your door, nationwide.
We make following a gluten-free healthy diet and eliminating gluten completely from your life as easy as 1, 2, 3.